The Small Claims Division handles monetary civil disputes for damages or replevin claims not exceeding $5,000.
Additional information is provided below. Forms and fee & surcharges is provided to the right.
How to File
If you are filing a small claims case, damages must be under $5,000. You may obtain the forms at no charge from the Small Claims Department. You may also access and complete the forms through TurboCourt.
You can file against either an individual or a business. If you are filing against a business, you need to find out if the business is incorporated. If the business is incorporated, you must obtain the name of an officer or a registered agent of the corporation. To obtain this information, contact the Secretary of State, Corporate Division, in Tallahassee at 850-488-9000 or visit their website. When calling the Corporate Division, you will be able to find out if the business is incorporated, the name of a corporate officer or registered agent, and an address for service.
At the time of filing your case, you have a choice of how to serve the defendant(s). You may request that the defendant(s) be served by the Sheriff's office, special process server or certified mail. The Sheriff charges $40, cash or money order only, per defendant. Many of the out-of-county Sheriffs also charge $40 per defendant. The Clerk will assess $10 to issue each summons and an additional $1 per defendant to cover postage for mailing any out-of- county Sheriff’s offices. Clerk's fees should be a separate check made payable to the Lee County Clerk of Courts.
The Special Process Servers are appointed by the chief judge, please contact Court Administration for a list of approved process servers.
Certified mail can only be used within the State of Florida. The fee for service by certified mail is $7 per defendant. Checks should be made payable to the Lee County Clerk of the Courts.
You must supply copies of any paperwork or documents that you plan to use to substantiate your claim. Documents, such as receipts, contracts or lease agreements, must be provided for the court file and one copy for each defendant that is named in your claim. Please have all documents copied prior to the time of filing. Copies can be made in the Self-Help Center for $0.15 per page.
If the defendant lives in another state, you will need to find out the county in which he/she resides. Call that county's Sheriff's office to request the following information:
- What law enforcement agency serves summonses?
- How much do they charge for serving each summons?
- What payment method ( cash, check, etc. ) is acceptable?
- What is the agency's mailing address?
Once you have obtained this information, complete the forms and return them to the Clerk’s office, along with the filing and service fees. Include an additional $1 per defendant postage fee, made payable to the Lee County Clerk of Courts.
Claims on Insurance Company
If filing a small claim against an insurance company, you must provide the address of the home office for the insurance company.
All claims filed against an insurance company are served through the Insurance Commissioner for the State of Florida. An example of how the defendant should be listed on both your Statement of Claim form and the summons form is as follows: ABC Insurance Company, 333 Main Street, Any town, AZ 12345, by serving Insurance Commissioner, State of Florida.
All documents that will be used to substantiate your claim should be filed with your claim. The Clerk’s office requires one copy and the Insurance
Commissioner requires three copies, making a total of four copies. If the Clerk’s office is asked to make copies, the charge is $1 per page.
The fee for service by the Insurance Commissioner is $15 payable by cashier’s check or money order only. Make the check payable to Insurance Commissioner, State of Florida. In addition to the service fee, the Clerk assesses a $1 postage fee. This must be a separate check made payable to Lee County Clerk of Court.
Method of Collection
If a trial court judge awarded you money or property in the final judgment, you are responsible to collect on the judgment. To assist you, the following information outlines a method of collecting on a judgment. However, procedures may change in accordance with Florida law. We suggest you consult with a licensed Florida attorney and/or reference Florida Statutes and Florida Rules of Court Procedure.
How to Collect a Judgment
Once you have been awarded a final judgment in a small claims case, you may begin your steps of collection. However, the judgment will not be available for approximately 5-10 days from your hearing date. If you would like to check prior to visiting the Clerk’s office, visit Court Records Inquiry or call 239-533-5000.
- To record the judgment within the Official Record, a $10 fee is required. If you would like a certified copy of the judgment returned to you, an additional fee of $1 per page and $2 per certification is required. The total amount due to the Clerk can be paid by check or money order made payable to the Lee County Clerk of Court and mailed to the Official Records Department. P.O. Box 2278 Fort Myers, FL 39902-2278.
- If your judgment is already recorded and you would like an additional copy, the cost is $1. per page and $2. per certification. You may submit a records request electronically via the Record Request System or by mail, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, to P.O. Box 2278, Fort Myers FL 33902. Please remember to reference your case number in the request. If you need assistance locating your case number, you may search the Court Records Inquiry website.
You must also include the correct fees to record the judgment. Please call the Recording Office 239-533-5007.
Writ of Execution: 15 days after the date of the recording of the original judgment, you may secure a Writ of Execution from the Clerk. Procedures for filing the Writ of Execution should be followed pursuant to Florida Statute 55.201-55.209. Visit the Department of State’s website for more information.
Writ of Garnishment: If there is no real or personal property to be seized under a Writ of Execution, look to see if the defendant has property in another’s possession. If a third person owes the defendant money or has the defendant’s property in their possession or if there is a bank account in the defendant’s name, you may file a Writ of Garnishment against that person or the bank. To do this, you will need to file a motion for Writ of Garnishment and remit $85 along with your motion to the Clerk of Court. Florida Statute 77.041 requires a Notice to Defendant and Claim of Exemption and Notice of Hearing form attached to all Writs of Garnishments. The Clerk of Court will do this for you. The garnishee, where the defendant is an individual, will have a chance to answer the writ within 20 days of service.
Exemptions from Judgments: Certain property may not be taken to satisfy a judgment because it is considered exempt. Exempt property includes: a home where the defendant who is the head of a family residing in Florida or his family lives on half an acre of land in a city or on up to 160 acres of contiguous land outside a city, personal property belonging to the head of a family residing in Florida of up to $1,000 in value (Art X, Section 4, Fla. Constitution).
There are also restrictions on garnishing a defendant’s wages from his place of employment. Generally, in accordance with Florida Statute 222.11-12, the wages of the person who is the head of a family cannot be garnished. Even when a person’s wages are subject to garnishment, you as a creditor have to follow the limitations on garnishment set forth in the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. Sections 1671-1691. This act states that no more than approximately a quarter of a person’s wages may be garnished from a paycheck.
Once you collect the judgment, you MUST record a Satisfaction of Judgment with the Clerk’s Office, Recording Department, 2115 Second Street in Fort Myers. A copy must be sent to the person who made the full payment.There are exceptions to some of these general rules and other types of property are exempt.